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Full text of "Verdict On India"

HUXGEIi                                              211
greater enthusiasm than any other part of the Hindu Pandit's
speech.
And now for the Muslim side of it. Writing in the Calcutta
Statesman of October 12th, 1943, the Muslim correspondent
' Shahed? makes the following observations :
'The Muslim leaders have repeatedly begged the Hindu Opposi-
tion to assist them in ending this tragic and shameful episode in
Bengal's history. Even after the most atrocious libels uttered
against the Ministry during the recent food debate in the Assembly,
Mr. Suhrawardy made an appeal to the libellers to co-operate.
The answer was, "'We will not listen to murderers P*
To sum up, the debates in the Bengal Assembly, through, the
long months of the crisis, afforded a sickening example of passion,
prejudice, and irresponsibility.1 Reading them it is difficult to
believe that these are grown-up men discussing an urgent and
vitpl problem : they sound like naughty children. It is impossible
to acquit either side of blame, but it is only fair to admit that the
Muslims did try to achieve some sort of facade of unity. They may
f not have offered the olive branch very gracefully but they did at
least produce it. To quote again from "ShahedV article :
"The Muslims are prepared to forget; their leaders are even
now prepared to work hand in hand with their Hindu traducers,
if only the latter will likewise bury the past, and above all, abandon
tactics to gain communal and political ends, and regard the issue of
Bc.igal's starving people as the only issue that matters.9
Our summary ib growing to unwarranted lengths. But the
matter is too important to be skimped.
We have seen that the two main causes of the famine were
firstly the malignant forces of nature, and secondly the incapacity
of the Indian Provincial Government to cope with the resultant
situation.
1 Time and again the vital business of debate is interrupted in order to rehash
some futile religious wrangle. The interested reader will do well to refer to volume
LSIV (No. 3), p. 454 onwards, where he will find the opening acts of a typical Indian
political drama. It arose from the demand of some Muslim students at the Pabna
College, ior a small room in which to say their prayers As soon as the request was
granted, the Hindu students gathered outside the room at prayer time and made
^Jpud noises with musical instruments. The result may be imagined; the whole
college was in an uproar ; and the controversy spread to the Assembly itself. The
reports of the debates give the impression that these matters were very much more*
important to the delegates than the fate of their starving countrymen.